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Opinion

The depleted value of the native Charlottean's voice
Long-time residents drowned out by newcomers
 
Published Sunday, August 6, 2017 9:00 pm
by Regina Stone-Grover

Regina Stone-Grover

A couple days ago, there was a piece posted in The Charlotte Observer about why it is important to be a contributing resident of Charlotte and how the words “I am a native Charlottean” make new residents feel “unwelcome.”   


I am not a native Charlottean.  I, as a newly contributing member of Charlotte, do recognize the decreasing value that is given to the Charlotte Natives as more and more new residents move into the Charlotte area.  


Everyone that is in Charlotte has value, and brings perspective and possibility; however, it is the native Charlotteans that understand the deeply rooted principles that the growing Charlotte population has been able to benefit from. Charlotte’s new developments are very trendy and bring new and exciting prosperity to the city, but it’s the beauty in the historic district that quite a few local politicians are speaking of preserving, and that many of the deeply rooted Charlotte natives are looking to keep the value of.  There are many places that are older and that deserve to be preserved and valued as is, and it is the Charlotte natives that hold some of the memories and stories that keep that information fresh.  


It is also the Charlotte natives that are getting some of the harshest treatment from the city of Charlotte.  The upward mobility study that placed Charlotte 50th out of the 50 largest U.S. cities and breaks down concerning projections for a future workforce, and children living in a lifetime of poverty is a reality for the native Charlotteans, not the people that moved to Charlotte for better opportunity.  


Two-thirds of the people born here are likely to remain in impoverished living conditions and not have the opportunity to advance into middle or upper class living.  These are the people that have been and are being displaced out of their homes, have limited working opportunities, and have been around long enough to know what the city needs. The same native Charlotteans also know how to meet city needs so that future children and families don’t have to continue experiencing the economical and financial hardships.  


What is being missed by people that “feel unwelcome” is that, it is the voices of the native Charlotteans that the city has chosen to ignore, and to limit the strength of for the ability to continue to gain access to community resources.  

As long as people keep moving in that don’t know about quality community organizations such as Hope Haven, INC or the like, then the city can continue to place band-aids on severed limbs and glaze over it with newly developed buildings.  It is the Charlotte natives that are watching the loss of deeply rooted culture and history replaced by trendy eateries, and new breweries.  

Recognizing community unity is important, however, there first has to be recognition of the value that is being depleted from the people that have built the foundation of Charlotte’s structure. We have to admit that Charlotte natives began the fight to enhance the standard of living for families in poverty. It has been the Charlotte natives that have brought awareness to issues of limited access to resources. We must give Charlotte natives credit for sticking through the hardships and trying to speak to the new residents that don’t know what they don’t know.

The phrase “I am a native Charlottean” now also incorporates statements such as:

1. “I am a person that is two-thirds more likely to stay in poverty.”

2. “I am a person that has watched my home get bull-dozed for a new luxury apartment building.”

3. “I am one of the children that have gone to school here my entire life, and now the park where I used to play is a trendy restaurant.”


New residents are welcomed to Charlotte. Hopefully, they will work hard for the native Charlotteans and understand that they are not speaking not because they want new residents to feel “unwelcome," but because they themselves are being told in many ways that they are no longer welcomed here.  


Detroit native Regina Stone-Grover is an artist, poet, event host, activist, and community organizer. She is a contributor to Vocal.media and works with adults and youth as a writing consultant in Charlotte.  

Comments

Thank you to everyone that has commented!!
Posted on August 11, 2017
 
I wasn't born here, but I chose Charlotte as my home over 40 years ago & have seen the slow destruction of so many things we old-timers used to love and appreciate.
Thank you for speaking for those who are left out.
Posted on August 8, 2017
 
Thank you Regina! We "natives" have for the most part always tried to be inclusive . Truth is that our ideas, talents & gifts offered to the community have so often been ignored or ridiculed, that we ,Charlotte,have suffered from a talent flight for decades
Posted on August 8, 2017
 
That was exactly what I was going to say!
Posted on August 7, 2017
 
I'm a native Charlottean...and Thankyou. My childhood memories are now high-end apartments and trendy new restaurants. When the historical Coffe Cup..became rubble...I knew then they don't care.
Posted on August 7, 2017
 
Damn. Yeah. Absolutely! Great article. I'm a native and I've never been able to capture the sentiment in words like you have. Thanks.
Posted on August 7, 2017
 
Great thinking piece!
Posted on August 7, 2017
 
Well spoken.
Posted on August 7, 2017
 

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